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A New Night

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Bassello awakens to an unfamiliar world, with no memories or knowledge of how he came to be a robot … especially with his sword-arms and cartoon face. Fortunately, he isn’t alone. A pious and brave priest named Romalla, of the planet’s friendly bat-people, is determined to join his mission for answers. Together, she and Bassello will investigate the mysteries of the invisible voices only priests can hear, a skyscraping Wall, and the other robots terrorizing the lands. All while helping one another learn the truth of who they really are inside—and making bad jokes along the way.

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Chapter 1

My Awakening as God of the Bats

It’s difficult to describe how it feels to gradually wake from nonexistence. I had no idea how long I floated in a black and semi-conscious haze. For me, there were no thoughts, no lights, no dreams. Only with the unknowable progression of time did I eventually begin to sense more. The haze took shape—with blurred edges, beginnings and ends. Still, I could not actively think to make sense of anything.

There eventually came a point at which the haze started to subside. That was when I began to realize that there was a “me.” Not that I knew who I was. All I knew—my only memories—were fleeting images. It was like I was receiving input from two sources fighting for dominance. The first was a place beyond a window, which seemed somehow separate from me. The second was a dreamlike state I existed within—chaotic, changing, and ethereal.

I tried to focus on the window as I floated in darkness—hearing voices and witnessing dreams play out as disjointed vignettes all around me. There was no ignoring these visions … the sound of glass shattering followed by rushing water … being caught in a vast current … standing atop a towering steel framework … the ground a dizzying distance below. Only occasionally was there silence.

The window and the solid forms beyond it were my reprieves, accompanied by a faint warmth on my face. When I could finally see into it, all nightmares around me vanished. The place within was one of solid shapes, textures, and surfaces. Sometimes there was movement or changing colors. However, the general shapes were constant.

As time went on, flipping in chaotic cycles between the peaceful daylight beyond the window and enduring the nightmares of the dark, the separation between the window and the dreams only grew. It was as if the two channels had been soil and water—all stirred up by my awakening. Then, with enough time, the two channels settled and divided entirely.

Eventually, I recognized the place beyond the glass as a cave. It was the size of a small room, with gray stone walls and a floor completely covered in yellow sand. Roots of various sizes dangled from the earthy ceiling above.

There were several small holes from which sunlight entered. If I watched these holes, I could sometimes spot animals dropping into the cave. They looked like bats, with large pointed ears, earthy-colored fur of various tones, and pig-like triangular noses. Each of their wings featured a single thick claw that they used to climb the cave walls. Once on the ground, they hopped around on long, kangaroo-like feet.

During more lucid times, when I could see the bats, I began to recognize them. I could tell which were males and females; I could even match babies to their parents. I enjoyed watching the bats whenever I could because they seemed happy. They peered through the glass with friendly, fanged smiles.

I could also hear them making sharp yet somehow musical noises. Listening to them was like hearing a chorus of professional flute players (if each flute had been carved to create a more piercing sound, like a whistle). They strung their shrieks, clicks, chirps, and screeches into melodies. Sometimes, it sounded like … singing … in a language I didn’t fully understand.

Perhaps if I had been more alert, I would have liked to hum along with them (and maybe tried to train them to sing some folk punk or power metal). The problem with this idea was that I was nothing more than an observer. Even if the glass had not stood as a barrier, I still wasn’t awake. I was not yet a personality, as I soon would be.

No, I could only watch with a mindless sense of peace as the bats hopped around and flew in blurs of brown, green, and gray. I always enjoyed them for as long as I could—until the light inevitably faded and the glass screen was gone again. The daylight hours, when I could watch the cave and the bats, could only go on for so long.

The more ethereal channel of chaos would emerge as the sunlight vanished. The dreams that came then were more like nightmares, visions taking place around me. Sometimes, I saw an endless horizon of water with the tops of buildings poking out above the sea. Birds and butterflies rested and fed upon bloated shapes that floated on the sluggish waves.

Other times, I saw the slums of a city—with walls towering high enough to block out the light of the sun. There was no division from these nightmares. I felt like I was trapped within them, cold and wet.

The dream would cycle, seemingly at random, between these dark scenes. Yet there was one constant. At the end of every night, I would return to one final, terrifying place. It was a cold room; the only lights were dull red computer monitors around me. Shackles bound me to a chair. Countless wires connected to my skin. Every moment of panic and every rapid breath caused the monitors to react with an angry noise before bathing the room in a flash of red light. Hot sweat dripped down my body.

A door would inevitably open on the far side of the dark room. A man would emerge, his skin, hair, and chilling stare cast red in the dim light of the monitors. He glared at me, his eyes seeming to glow in fury. Then, as I lay paralyzed in terror, he would lower the gun barrel to align it with my left eye. With a glowing, crimson smile, he would fire a deafening shot.

All dreams would fade to nothing. But, eventually, the warm sunlight would return and the bats with it. This cycle went on … repeating more times than I could count. Immeasurable time passed. My existence was to watch the window and relive these same dreams until I knew everything about them by heart.

Gradually, the bats’ sounds seemed more like language than animal garbling or signaling. I couldn’t understand any sentences or conversations at first. But occasionally, I heard something that sounded specifically like a word. Sometimes an English word—other times a Spanish word. There were other words as well, perhaps in languages unknown to me. Even so, I eventually came to understand these as well.

My mind began to put certain sounds with certain behaviors, actions, or objects. Finally, after an eternity of daily cycles, I could name everything I saw by the bats’ sounds. However, with my hazy mind only able to process one word or phrase at a time, I could never concentrate enough to really keep track of what was happening.

I didn’t know how much time passed. Maybe years … or even decades. Still, it came as a surprise when I finally, truly awoke to the gentle heat of sunlight on my face.

At first, I didn’t even realize that I was awake. Or that—had I wanted to—I could have moved. I was too absorbed in listening and understanding a song that someone seemed to be singing right outside, audible through holes in the earthy ceiling.

In a series of high notes and chirping undertones, the song went: “Save us, defend us, oh gods good and brave. Who watch us and hide us in the depths of our cave. Oh Ragalla, Mother Ocean, of rains, mist and flood …” The song became too faint to hear as the singer moved away. Yet, I had understood it … and could remember it. My mind had not scrambled the meaning. Something had changed.

I leaned just a bit to get closer to the vanishing song and found my face closer to the glass screen. My movement was swift and fluid, with none of the slow grogginess I expected to come upon waking. Moving made me instantly feel a greater awareness of my own body. I was resting in a semi-standing position against a slanted wall.

I moved closer to the glass to get a better view out the window, but froze when something happened in the space around me. There was a mechanical hiss, and I suddenly felt much warmer. The protective glass screen that had always separated me from the cave now lifted, briefly revealing a metal door that I suppose had always held the window in place.

Immediately, I could smell the earthy tones of mud, moss, and damp. The roots above dangled close enough to my face that I could have reached and grabbed them. A beam of light touched my face directly from a small hole in the ceiling, blinding me to what else might have been outside. The cave, which I could now see from end to end, could not have been much larger than a medium-sized bedroom. In the corners were a few logs, stalagmites, and stalactites. The walls were comprised of stone and soil, and the ground was covered in grainy, yellow sand.

I wasn’t alone, however. There was a flurry of movement as the bat-like creatures hopped frantically to the back of the cave. I stared at them … perhaps as shocked that they were real as by the odd way they retreated. Cowering instead of clawing and flying upward like I had unconsciously expected of such animals.

Now that I was awake, staring in hazed confusion with my freshly active mind, I felt as if I were seeing them anew. It took me a moment, but I could now see that they weren’t bats, at least any sort of bat I knew of.

Given my lack of memories, I wasn’t sure how I knew this. However, I did have some sort of intuitive knowledge of animals. Making a mental list, I thought of animals I recognized as universally known—dogs, cats, rats (and their seeming conglomerate, the chihuahua). I was even familiar with more obscure species, such as capybaras, boa constrictors, caimans, and zebus.

To my brain, however, the bat-like creatures were different. The sense of familiarity I felt toward them came primarily from my dreams, not my internal knowledge of animal species.

Sure, it was undeniable that these creatures had to be in the bat family. It wasn’t as if they were so alien that my mind had just reached for the closest possible comparisons. They looked remarkably similar to vampire bats, with upturned noses, round bellies, sharp teeth, pink tongues, and small triangular ears. It was enough for me to feel sure they were related to the bats I knew of.

However, I felt certain that these were not a species I would have ever known existed. These bats had long feet and legs that looked stronger than those of any bat I knew of. They could hop on these hind legs alone, only using their wings to balance themselves when they weren’t in motion. Then there was the size difference … these bats were enormous, especially for vampire bats. Looking down at them, they seemed about the size of house cats.

The bats still cowered at the opposite end of the cave. There were six of the creatures—two brown ones, three gray ones, and a small one with fur the color of green moss.

Their looks of fear struck me as more expressive than any animal I could imagine. Something in how they stared at me, their faces shifting between terror, despair, and what might have even been pleading, seemed more person-like than animal. Though I knew that animals like dogs and cats could certainly express complex emotions, and apes even more so, this was something else. The way they looked at me took me off-guard; I didn’t know how to respond.

The only bat that did not seem terrified was the small one with green fur—a female—standing before the others. Her face did not show terror but, instead, a fierce and threatening sort of protectiveness mixed in with a slight bit of confusion. As we watched one another motionlessly, her face gradually changed from a glare to an inquisitive look of interest.

As my mind finally caught up with my shock at everything happening to me, I began feeling anxious about my current situation. Of course, I felt guilty for causing the bat creatures distress. Even though I didn’t know much about them, they had been the brighter part of my existence for as long as I could remember. However, the thought had also occurred to me that bats carried rabies … and I really, really did not want to be bitten.

My plan was to crouch out of the way, so the creatures had a clear path to their holes in the ceiling. However, given how long I felt I had been asleep, I was not wholly confident that my legs would hold out or carry my weight. Could I even walk at all? There was only one way to know, little as I liked it. I prepared to stumble forward and brace myself against the rocky cave wall if my legs buckled.

“We’ve got this,” I said (perhaps lying to myself a little … just to manage). Trying not to think too much about the fall ahead, I stepped forward. To my surprise, my movement was swift and easy. My legs held me straight up, with no need to stumble drunkenly toward the cave wall. I felt no dizziness or weakness whatsoever. If anything, I felt strong and energized. Still, it probably wasn’t the best time to start doing cartwheels or long jumps.

I leaned against the nearest wall of the cave. Then, in as soothing a tone I could manage, I said, “It’s alright, guys. You can go … and then I’ll just climb out, so you can go back to doing your thing.” I hoped that speaking in a gentle and friendly way might be calming for the bats, like it would have been for a dog. It was a few moments later that I realized I had spoken to them in the language I thought I remembered them using in my dreams.

To my surprise, my words and tone seemed to have a more significant effect on the creatures than I could have expected. They relaxed from their tense and defensive postures a bit and began to look at one another. Now that they were calmer, I smiled, feeling a little better. I began to move to the side of the cave so that the bats might fly out this time.

At that moment, someone said, “Sleeping God of the Night People, please do not leave.” The words, spoken by the unseen feminine voice, were firmly polite.

Still, the unexpectedness of being spoken to in the dim cave startled me a little. Feeling a brief flush of embarrassment, I composed myself and looked around for who had spoken. Nobody moved or announced themselves.

The only movement came from the small green bat. She hopped closer and looked up at me.

I looked around some more, expecting to see an intercom or someone hidden in the shadows—like a ninja in some movie or another. However, I saw nothing but the bats. In a moment of utter bewilderment, I looked at the green bat and said, “Did you ...”

The bat didn’t respond to my half-question.

I rolled my eyes at my own absurdity.

I then turned to look behind me for whoever had spoken. There was a mechanical pod—the thing I had stepped out of and been sleeping in all this time. It was roughly the size of a large refrigerator. It featured a large and now-open hatch door with a glass window. The pod was made of metal, with no markings. Judging by the external wear, any tags or engraved words on it had probably worn off. The sand-covered exterior seemed dully polished, like beach glass that had been tumbled slowly over time, until the surface was rounded and smooth.

I wondered if the voice had come from the pod. The inside still seemed to be in good condition. However, it was a lot plainer than I expected. The pod was empty except for padding, molded with a vaguely humanoid outline. These pads did not seem thick enough to be comfortable, making me wonder how I slept on them without noticing any pain or discomfort.

On the plus side, the pod had been standing up straight and facing the open end of the cave when I’d woken up. Then, a horrific thought occurred to me, sending a shiver through my body. Had the pod been turned around in the opposite direction, or had it been upside-down … I didn’t want to think about waking up trapped like that.

Of course, that begged the question of why I’d woken up in a pod underground at all. My imagination briefly perused through a series of scenarios that all seemed equally fictional to me. I wondered if this was something like an escape pod from a spaceship. However, the pod certainly didn’t seem to be cushioned enough for someone inside to survive a crash. And it didn’t seem to be … high-tech enough to be something futuristic, like a cryo-pod or healing tank.

Also, I didn’t particularly feel like a space-faring person. The very simple technology of this pod—hinges, door, and window—was about the upper limit for the kinds of machines that even seemed real to me. By this, I mean that I wouldn’t have been shocked to find a computer, tablet, or phone in the pod. However, holograms, escape pods, and healing tanks seemed like objects from a movie. Given my lack of concrete memories, I couldn’t explain how; but some things seemed to me like things that existed while others didn’t.

For now, I needed to know if there was some way the voice had come from this pod. There was no computer of any kind immediately visible. I checked inside the compartment, where I had been laying, but saw no vents, speakers, or screens. In fact, there did not seem to be buttons, lights, or interfaces. It was almost like this was just some kind of … shipping container.

Though it felt silly, I turned back around and looked at the green bat again, just to be sure that she was not the one who had spoken.

The green bat hopped as if to get my attention and, to my great surprise, spoke again. “It is I, Romalla. If you would wait a moment, our priest will return.” This time, there was no mistaking that the green bat was the one who had spoken. The sounds were coming directly from her mouth. Also, her voice did not sound like what I would have expected from a human, even over a radio. No, it was slightly sharper, with harder consonant sounds.

Though I could understand her language, I recognized that it wasn’t English or Spanish. In fact, I didn’t have a name for this language. Yet I knew it from my dreams, from watching the bats as they had spoken to one another, and from the song I’d heard outside the cave. The same language I had instinctively spoken to the bats when I’d first exited the pod.

“Oh, alright, thank you,” I replied, feeling dizzy. My overwhelming feelings of confusion were not helped by the fact that I had just spoken in their language, again, without even thinking about it.

Speaking to the bat made me wonder if I had lost my mind; was I really in some kind of mental institution? Had somebody secretly drugged me? Maybe I was in a padded cell with people watching me via camera to evaluate my sanity … And here I was, trying to be polite to my hallucination of a talking green bat. Even now, I stood quietly to not further disturb the potentially imaginary creatures. Did that make me even more insane?

I shook my head. It was probably a better sign if I was polite to my hallucinations, rather than ignoring them or screaming at them. Or—if I was forever trapped in my delusional fantasies—maybe it was a good idea to keep a good relationship with the imaginary bat people that my brain was making up. There was no harm in being cordial … even if I was hallucinating. At least, that was what I decided to tell myself.

Fortunately, the green bat named Romalla and the other bats (or hallucinations) seemed calmed by my attempt at calmness. Of course, their eyes were still wide, and they appeared wary.

One of the bats, a gray female that seemed to be a bit more composed than the others, gained the presence of mind to fly upward to the exit in the ceiling. She spread her large wings, hopped with her long feet, and darted up to the hole above. How she moved seemed reasonably calm—and certainly not like a “bat out of hell” (pardon the pun). She then climbed through and vanished.

Another moment passed; I stepped back and sat in the dirt with my legs folded beneath me. Unfortunately, I fell a little harder than I intended, causing the sound of my crashing to echo off the walls.

The loud noise elicited some gasps from the bat people.

“Sorry!” I said quickly, lifting a hand in an apologetic gesture toward them. When I did this, I realized that I was seeing the back of my hand for the first time.

My hand was not fleshy, as I had intuitively expected it to be, but bulky, metal, and coated in semi-transparent white rubber. And instead of my hand being connected to a human forearm, my forearm was also metal and … massive.

My oversized forearm was then attached, via socketed elbow joint, to a narrower upper arm, which seemed to be made of metal pipe. The drastic size of each forearm—especially in comparison to the upper arm—made me mentally picture a cartoonish, spinach-eating sailorman.

A sense of alarm ran like an electrical current throughout my body. I felt a flare of sickening heat in my chest as I stared at my robotic arm. I put one of my rubber-coated hands on my chest, expecting to feel my heart racing violently. However, I felt nothing beating inside me—only more cold metal. I began to feel like everything around me was spinning.

Suddenly, there were two metal clicks as grooves opened where the ulna bone in the underside of my forearms should have been. A narrow gap revealed itself, running from the tip of my elbow to the wrist of each arm. From these gaps, metal blades sprang out of the sides of my arms; they slid slightly forward on hinged bars and locked into place. Each was the size of a machete, extending somewhat past my outstretched pinky finger, almost like a bayonet on the underside of an old rifle.

The bat people, except for the green one, let out terrified shrieks. Startled by their sounds and the fact that machetes had just shot out of my arms, I yelped and fell entirely on my back. This created another loud crashing noise that again echoed off the cave walls. This noise was so loud that it silenced the bats.

I remained still for a moment, trying to regain my composure and not damage myself with the giant blades sticking out of my body. Instinctively, I tried to take deep and controlled breaths. That was when I realized that I couldn’t. Though I tried to pull air into my nostrils (which seemed to share the trending trait of nonexistence with my lungs and skin), nothing happened. Despite my panic, I realized that I didn’t even feel a need to breathe.

I momentarily thought of feeling my face to be sure nothing was blocking my nose and mouth. I thought there might be a mask or breathing apparatus keeping me alive. However, I took a second look at the enormous knives sticking out of my arms and promptly decided that bringing them closer to my face would not be for the best.

I groaned miserably and then slowly moved to sit back up. The energized feeling of panic inside me still hadn’t subsided. It was like every part of my body was caffeinated simultaneously—to an alarming degree. As if someone had hooked each of my body parts to IVs filled with concentrated energy drinks. And without the ability to breathe, I didn’t know how to calm down.

I saw that most of the bats were trembling again, huddled together at the back of the cave, their pupils dilated drastically. Seeing them like that made me feel … bad … more than bad—a nauseating feeling of shame. I knew they were scared, and here I was, crashing around like a monster. I told myself that I had to chill out, or I was going to scare them—and me—to death.

It took several minutes before I thought of another idea to calm myself. What if I tricked myself into not freaking out about being a robot? It took me a moment to focus and block everything else out of my thoughts. I imagined myself as a person with fleshy skin. And with my squishy feet—likely covered by hiking sandals—I was walking in the woods. In my imagination, I was drinking something with too much sugar and listening to fringe music that would have made most other people wince.

This made me feel … better, but it wasn’t enough. Since I was in the land of make-believe anyways, I also decided that the bats were on the hike with me, hopping around happily. To my surprise, picturing this helped to calm me even more. It reminded me of all the times I’d woken from my nightmares. Every time, the bats were there.

As fast and unexpectedly as they had shot out, the blades retracted back into my arms. I was a little surprised … but in a good way. Then, I looked at the bats and said, “Sorry.” I tried to make some sort of calming face … even though I still wasn’t sure I had one of those.

Regardless of my facial status, my smile must have worked; one of the bats slumped its tense wings a bit. Another exhaled and breathed a little easier.

While I was glad things had calmed a bit, the bats’ reactions made me wonder more about my facial expressions. Now that I wasn’t in danger of slicing my face off, I could no longer bear the curiosity. I reached up with nervous trepidation.

Where I should have felt my cheek, there was only a cool glass surface. I shifted my touch. No eyes … or nose … or mouth. Only slightly rounded glass—a curved oval where my face should have been. The rest of my head was metal. It reminded me of a spacesuit helmet.

My fingers were oddly soft—likely from the semi-transparent white rubber that coated them. It suddenly struck me as odd that my glass face and my rubber fingers could both feel—just as if they were human skin. I was … some kind of … “feeling” robot. This realization made way for more confusion. How did I even know what a robot was? Or why one shouldn’t be able to feel?

Why did I feel like I had not always been a robot? Why were there so many human things that were familiar and intuitive to me? Things like animals—movies—what bayonets looked like—and what a television was for. I knew that this metal body was wrong. But why would a robot be programmed to feel like its body was something foreign?

Fortunately, I did not have long to fret about it. A bat with brown fur descended from one of the holes in the ceiling, glided down to the sand, and hopped toward me. He seemed a little bit smaller than the other adult bats. He had loose, wrinkled skin and streaks of white in his dull coat. That, and how his body moved more slowly than the others, told me he was an elder.

“Hello, Sleeping God, protector of the Night People. I am your senior priest, Krogallo,” The brown bat said warmly. He looked at me with an expression that was composed but also reverent. “It is my honor to welcome you. Long have we awaited your awakening.”

Despite all my confusion and anxiety, his calm was oddly reassuring.

“Hello,” I said, nodding for no reason. The interaction was enough to pull me out of my existentialist panic for the time being.

In response, the other bat people nodded back at me in exaggerated movements. Seeing this, the thought occurred to me that none of them had probably ever seen a nod used as a greeting before. Regardless, all the bats in the cave continued to nod deeper and deeper, until they were bowing their entire bodies in a way that struck me as familiar … but not in a way that made me comfortable.

I didn’t know whether they were nodding just to appease me—or because they thought I was a god with my own divine rituals. Either way, for some reason, I didn’t like it.

I shuffled closer to Krogallo, so that I was in whispering distance, and said, “I … I don’t know what’s going on.” For some reason, I wasn’t sure if it was a good idea for the other bats to overhear me. Part of this came from a sense of embarrassment. I wasn’t sure exactly why I felt this way … only that I felt like an imposter.

Krogallo cocked his head, clearly not understanding.

“I don’t remember … things,” I said, trying to explain my gaps in memory and my unfamiliarity with anything around me. This was difficult since I hadn’t really had time to piece the extent of my confusion together for myself.

Still, I could feel my mysterious and instinctive feelings of embarrassment quickly metamorphosing into an unexpected pang of guilt deep in my belly. This sentiment didn’t make sense to me; I’d done nothing wrong! Yet, as the bats around me repeated their bowing and the priest stared at me with reverence, I felt more and more like I was pretending to be their god.

Some mysterious and newly forming set of thoughts and feelings inside me said that if I didn’t do everything I could to express otherwise, I would be … lying … manipulating them by omission. Not only that, but that lying to these bats was something I should be ashamed of.

Like my other instinctive thoughts, these surprising emotions seemed intuitive. Not from someone else or some sort of ghost inside my brain. No, the feelings felt oddly like my own. Like I hadn’t just woken up as a new person. Rather, I was already a person—just without any memories to justify why I was who I was.

Relenting to the growing pressure from this new set of feelings, I blurted out, “I’ve never heard of the Sleeping God or the Night People. I just … woke up. And I don’t remember anything, not even about me.” I sputtered it all at once, unable to keep it inside me for even a second longer. Upon doing so, the negative feelings—all except my embarrassment—dissipated, clearly appeased that they had bullied me into submission

Krogallo, of course unable to see the drama taking place within my own head, was left to deal with the information I’d just vomited at him. He narrowed his gaze and then began to scratch his toes with the hooked claw on each wing. After a moment, he used a gentle flap to beckon the green bat called Romalla.

They hopped to the far side of the cave, away from the other bats and from me, and began to mutter and speak privately for several minutes. Then they became very quiet and inclined their faces toward the small holes in the ceiling. I wondered if this was a religious custom or some kind of ritual. Either way, I didn’t interrupt. Finally, after a few more minutes, both hopped toward me.

“Sleeping God, I have listened to the spirit world to gain insight and guidance,” Krogallo said. “The gods sent a sweet song, and my apprentice—Romalla—helped me understand. You, the Sleeping God, were awakened through our prayers in our time of greatest need.”

“You don’t remember, Sleeping God,” added Romalla. “For something must be given so the gods can be among us. So you must have sacrificed your memories to travel here from the spirit world.”

The other bats widened their eyes in awe. They took their bowing—extrapolated from my initial nod—and made it even deeper and more dramatic. It seemed that this explanation seemed perfectly reasonable to them.

However, the priests’ explanation provided no comfort or insight for me. Whatever feeling told me that my body was wrong and that there were some things I should not do, now also gave me a similar impression to Krogallo’s words. They weren’t a lie, just … incorrect.

Part of me wanted to say so. But I didn’t know how to argue. It wasn’t as if I could come back with, ‘Hey, I have a vague feeling in the back of my head that I’m pretty sure is way more valid than the religious mumbo-jumbo you two came up with. So go back to being terrified of me until we figure out a valid reason for me being here. Or else, until my never-ending cycle of panicking, falling, and shooting weapons out of my arms leads to someone dying of a heart attack. You know … whichever comes first.’

For now, the one thing I absolutely had to stop was the bowing—which had continued after the priests’ explanation. The creatures’ repeated bobbing, as they planted their faces into the dirt and then raised them to look at me, had brought back my feelings of discomfort and … wrongness … so that I felt nauseous. Even though I probably didn’t have intestines, I couldn’t stomach another moment of this (pardon the pun).

So, I said, “You guys don’t have to do that. I feel like we don’t—uh—prostrate ourselves to the floor in … wherever I’m from. It’s supposed to be a respectful nod, like between equals.”

Romalla froze and stared at me in confusion. Her mouth opened in surprise. She rushed to forcefully lift the other bats to standing positions. Then, she said, “Stand! Stand, People of the Night. The gods are humble and do not wish to be treated as greater! They do not wish us to debase ourselves for their glory, but to stand and be … ’guys’.” Her voice was scornful and severe.

I groaned inwardly and placed my rubber-coated palm on my featureless glass face. Ten minutes into discovering a new culture and I was already ruining it. I would have to be more careful—if that was even possible. Who knew what I would say next? Totes. Awesome. Cool. Totes Adorbs. By the time I was done here, all the bats would be making a church devoted to Our Holy Robot—Dude of the Sacred Pod!

God forbid … figuratively speaking.

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belu: me gusta mucho la manera en la que relatas todo, haces que uno se meta muchísimo en la historia, encontré en fic de casualidad pero posta que tranquilamente estaría siendo uno de mis favs hasta el momento!!! 🥹🫶🏼

Susanne Moore: Love this series, the kids are great. Can't wait for the dragon!!!

Susanne Moore: Ugh I hate those bad and selfish people. Can't wait until they all get there butt kicked

About Us

Inkitt is the world’s first reader-powered publisher, providing a platform to discover hidden talents and turn them into globally successful authors. Write captivating stories, read enchanting novels, and we’ll publish the books our readers love most on our sister app, GALATEA and other formats.